Bernie, Two Months!

Hello from Bernie’s 10th week! She is nearly 2 1/2 months old and smiles more and more each day! We have settled into the best little routine where every morning we have wiggle time, then go to the gym to stroll and listen to Unorthodox, and then come home and make a big summery salad for lunch. In the afternoon we do a fun thing like read crinkly tail tale books or swat at hanging vegetable toys before snuggles and nap time (that’s when I watch Jeopardy and read Bringing Up Bébé). Then we make dinner and Eggboy and I watch Fargo while we wait for Bernie to poop so that we can then give her a bath without worrying that she’ll poop in it (yep, learned that one the hard way haha). It’s peak maternity leave livin’ around here and we are soaking it in. Also the weather has been amazing, so we are, as Bernie puts it, “GOO!” Some highlights from this past month include:

-Our first little family picnic! On Memorial Day, we grilled sausages, potatoes, and broccolini, and drank rhubarb soda while we enjoyed the evening breeze.

-Bernie’s first out of town visitors! Jaclyn and Katie came to town and we had the best weekend ever, which included a trip to Fargo for the Antiques Roadshow (with a stop at Silver Lining Creamery after), the North Dakota Shakespeare 5K (err- we walked 3Ks of it ;), an afternoon picnic in the backyard with cookies and cookie dough (and carrots for balance), and cinnamon roll pancakes at Darcy’s.

-Cuddle time with Mrs. Moose. Bernie’s been grasping and swatting at toys and in true baby fashion she definitely prefers the super saturated weirdly colored high contrast ones. The muted rainbow lover in me is like “😳🙄 But Bernie, this hot pink neon green bumble bee clashes terribly with your navy car seat, mustard outfit, and olive pacifier…” but it’s ok, maybe one day she’ll love dusty rose like I do??

-Bernie’s first Syttende Mai, Norwegian Constitution Day! She is 5/16ths Norwegian, so we went to Sons of Norway and ate lefse, krumkake, rømmegrøt, and all of the other faves. She wore her Norwegian accessories from our friend Trude in Norway and had the best time!!

-My first Mother’s Day, it was delightful! Bernie and I worked on her cookbook and snuggled the day away. Then the following week it was my birthday and we went out to lunch wearing identical outfits and spent the rest of the day baking cookies and cake!

-Bernie talks soo much!! We have great conversations about Ooo and Ahh and Goo, I love them.

-She has gotten very tall, she has Eggboy’s legs. Hallelujah!

Ok, we’ve gotta go pick rhubarb!! Bernie’s sending some friendly hiccups in your general direction and I’m waving! Bye!

-Yeh!

Turkey Spinach Meatballs with Tahini and Chimichurri

I’ve been preparing for this year’s Passover for months now. Ever since I realized that Passover would be Bernie’s first major holiday, I’ve had so many things going through my mind. This is our first holiday as a little family! It’s going to be the best thing ever! I’m going to cry so much!!!!!! Literally I can’t even imagine explaining the bitter herbs to Bernie without tearing up. And carrying her around while searching for the afikoman?? I’m weeping. The food, I realized, would have to be delicious and memorable but mostly prep-aheadable. In my freezer I have balls of Passover chocolate chip cookie dough and a white matzo lasagna (recipes coming soon for both of these), as well as chicken stock that will hopefully see some matzo balls. My mom is planning to be here for Passover so I’m hoping that between the two of us and Eggboy, we’ll be able to both snuggle Bernie all day long and roll a matzo ball. And braise a brisket. Even though braises do really well in the freezer, I didn’t get around to braising one before she arrived. (Oh, this is what Mom guilt is!)

I did however make a bunch of these meatballs that I love for multiple reasons: 

-The flavor is incredible, they taste sausage-y, thanks to a sprinkling of fennel seeds and a heavy hand with the herbs.

-There’s spinach hiding in them! Even though they’re warm and comforting, they’re on the more nutritious end of the spectrum when it comes to freezer foods.

-They’re great as a Passover dish or a non-Passover dish. They’re not like those foods that only really taste good on the sixth day of Passover when you have Passover goggles on.

-Eggboy is obsessed with meatballs. He is meatball boy.

-They freeze and reheat really easily. I store them in a ziploc bag, so they can smoosh in anywhere in the freezer, and then you can reheat them just by tossing them into red sauce or sticking them in the oven. 

Here I’ve plated them up with some creamy tahini sauce (garlicky yogurt sauce is also nice) and a super bright and springy chimichurri. It’s a fun way to eat them for a pasta-less week or if you’re just looking for a filling side for an otherwise vegetable-centric meal. When it’s not Passover I’m definitely piling these high on top of pappardelle. 


Turkey and Spinach Meatballs with Tahini and Chimichurri

Makes 22-24 meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs

2 tb olive oil, plus more for cooking meatballs

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

8 oz fresh spinach, chopped

1 large egg

1/2 c (30g) matzo meal (or panko breadcrumbs)

Black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 lb ground turkey (93% lean)

Tahini Sauce

1/4 c tahini

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tb water

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Chimichurri

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 c (100g) olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Clues

Preheat the oven to 425ºf.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large oven-safe skillet. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and fennel and cook for another minute and then add the spinach in batches, stirring, until wilted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the egg, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon salt, a few turns of black pepper, the onion powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, paprika, parsley, turkey, and the slightly cooled spinach mixture and use your hands to mix to combine.

Wipe out the skillet that was used to heat the spinach and then heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium high heat. Form the turkey mixture into golfball-sized balls and brown them on all sides, in 2 or 3 batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Transfer the browned meatballs to a plate. Once all of the meatballs are browned, return them to the skillet and stick the skillet in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until they’re cooked through and have an internal temperature of 160ºf. To make the tahini sauce, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, and water until smooth and pourable. If it’s too thick, add a bit more water, if it’s runny, add more tahini. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the chimichurri, combine all ingredients in a food processor, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and blend until smooth. If you don’t want to use a food processor, you can also chop the herbs and garlic finely by hand and mix with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

To serve, spread a large dollop of tahini sauce on a plate or shallow bowl, top with meatballs and drizzle on the chimichurri to taste. Enjoy!

To freeze: cooked meatballs can be cooled and stored in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, place on a sheet pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Prepared chimichurri can be frozen as well. Defrost at room temp or heat briefly in the microwave. I wouldn’t recommend freezing tahini sauce, but it’s super easy to whip up!


Meet Bernie!

Hello from my new absolute favorite place in the world: snuggling on the recliner with a warm squishy Bernie sleeping on my chest. Holy smokes, this has been the greatest week ever. Sure, my boobs are about to fall off and I have stitches in a non-disclosable place but just like you have all told me over the past few months, every single challenge and every ounce of sleep deprivation is 1000000000% worth the love I get to have for this perfect little dumpling baby girl.

Today is Bernie’s first Friday! Ever! A week ago Eggboy and I arrived at the hospital after my water broke at around 1am. It was perfect timing because I had just finished up my last planned day of work testing recipes for Girl Meets Farm, and had cupcakes on hand that we packed up for the nurses (who by the way deserve like endless cupcakes forever and ever?! They were so amazing). I spent the day laboring and hanging out with my mom and Eggmom and Eggboy! We watched the Duke basketball game, listened to Unorthodox, talked about books, and I watched them eat Jimmy John’s… dreaming of the Italian Night Club that I’d soon be able to demolish. Since my water broke so early in the day, I assumed that Bernie would be born in time for pizza Friday, but she took her time and came out shortly after the clock struck midnight on her due date, March 30! A Caturday! She was so calm and huggable, I was immediately wildly crazily in love. I didn’t even care that by that time all of the pizza places in town were closed and my only food option was a hospital turkey sandwich haha.

Bernie has my nose, my hair, Eggboy’s mouth (a future good trombone embouchure, he says), his non-stubby toes, and both of our favorite emoji, 😛. Her full name, Bernadette, is in honor of Eggboy’s great great grandpa, Bernt, who came over from Norway and started the Hagen farm in 1876, and my great grandpa Bernard, who emigrated from Hungary. Bernie’s first middle name, Rosemary, is after my mom’s mom! (It’s no coincidence that Rosemary is also one of my favorite herbs, and that it was all over my wedding bouquets.)

Bringing Bernie home for the first time and introducing her to the farm and her room and all of her new toys and clothes was such a magical feeling that I never want to forget. In the week since her arrival, we’ve spent most of our hours cuddling, nursing, catching up on my bagels and lox intake, watching concerts on the Berlin Phil’s Digital Concert Hall, and eating delicious dinners brought over by friends and family. Bernie has perfected her cute little sounds, yips and hiccups and soft perfect sighs, and occasionally she puckers her lips and I melt right down like butter on toast. Oh! And I had my first “is this chocolate? or poop?” moment. It was chocolate! Yay.

Ok I’m due to give some hugs and forehead smooches, so I gotta go!!! Now that I’m officially on maternity leave, I’ll be posting a bunch of (mostly freezer friendly) recipes that I developed over the past few months. I’ll check in every so often with Bernie updates!

And also thank you all so much for your sweet words and messages about Bernie!!! We’ve felt the love through social media and are so so grateful! <3

-Yeh!

Baby Meal Prep Guide

I have been looking forward to baby prep since, like, I myself was a baby. I love making prepackaged foods with labels and stuff, it’s the same part of me that explodes with excitement whenever I remember that in a few years I’ll get to start packing cute little lunchboxes every day. I currently have enough meals prepped for a good couple of months, including specific dishes for Passover, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and my birthday. (You’re going crazy, says Eggboy. But we’ll see who the crazy one is when he’s eating a nice hot burrito at 3am while holding a screaming baby!) Not every aspect of my impending life as a mother is as ready as my freezer, of course, seriously how do I change a diaper, but since I’ve learned so much and had so much fun preparing all of these meals, here is a post about it!

As soon as I learned of Poppy Seed’s existence, I started a list on my phone of prep-ahead-able foods that I wanted to make and also blog about, since I figured this would be a great way to organize all of the recipes that I wanted to post during my maternity leave. (So a lot of the recipes that are mentioned here will be posted over the next 3-4 months.) My goals for this list were to find foods that were comforting and delicious, but that were also going to pack some nutrition and not be too heavy. I didn’t want to just fill my freezer with hotdishes and mac and cheese, so I made sure to also add things like smoothie packs, veggie dumplings, and spinach-packed meatballs. I also asked Instagram for suggestions and the most suggested things were:

-Handheld foods

-Oatmeal muffins, to aid with lactation

-Everything on Pinch of Yum’s freezer meal guide

-Carby/comforting things like mac and cheese, lasagna, and chicken pot pies (and individual portions of them)

-Soups

-Breakfast sandwiches and burritos

So I compiled my master list! Here it is. Not everything is frozen, some of it is just shelf stable, and there are also lists of other grocery store items that I plan to have on hand as well. I’ve prepped most of these things so far. I have another week before my due date to try to get to the rest of it, but if I don’t we’ll be ok.

Oh and here’s a confession: we recently bought a new freezer that was on sale at Sam’s Club on the premise that it’ll definitely get put to use in the future for cakes, preserving rhubarb, and meal prep for my next 12 kids. So between that, the chest deep freeze that we inherited from Egggrandma, the little shoebox-sized freezer in my Smeg fridge, and the other fridge/freezer that we inherited from other Egggrandma, we have four freezers. 4! Here’s the new one that’s holding most of the meal prep stuff, the other ones are too messy for a photo op.

My Meal Prep Master List

* = recipe coming soon. I’ll post links here as they get posted!

Breakfast:

Green smoothie packs

Cocoa berry smoothie packs (the recipe is in my Instagram Meal Prep story highlights)

Potato bagel breakfast sandwiches*

Chocolate peanut butter oatmeal muffins*

Sarah’s peanut butter granola

Other things I plan to have on hand: avocados, oranges, apples, berries, yogurt, ezekiel/seedy bread, matzo, peanut butter, jam, sliced cheese

Lunch:

Black bean sweet potato burritos*

Mini veggie pizzas

Kale and white bean soup

Veggie dumplings*

Egg and chive dumplings*

Everything bagel mac and cheese

Mozzarella pesto mac and cheese

Other things I plan to have on hand: salad kits, sandwich stuff (COLD CUTS GET @ ME), baby carrots, celery

Dinner:

Wild rice soup

Chana masala

Turkey bean chili and cornbread 

Chicken pot tater tot hotdish

Knoephla soup

Spinach and artichoke chicken and biscuits

Other things I plan to have on hand: salad kids, broccoli/other quick cooking vegetables, Rao’s marinara sauce (my fave!), pasta, rice, frozen cauliflower/sweet potato rice

Desserts, snacks, and occasion things:

Sausage and pancakes on a stick

Taco pizza*

Sarah's chocolate chip cookie dough

Alana’s Furikake snack mix

Cookie salad ice cream*

Homemade peanut butter cake mix

Passover:

Spring veggie white matzo lasagna

Chicken soup

Turkey spinach meatballs

Meatless meatballs (recipe in Molly on the Range)

Lily’s Charoset ice cream

Passover chocolate chip cookie dough

Brisket: I’ll probably only get to this if Poppy Seed is like 2 weeks late, but braised meats, including brisket, do freeze and reheat incredibly well. 

Here are some general rules for freezing and reheating certain types of foods! They might not be exact for every single recipe (use your nose/your best judgment) but consider this a roadmap to help get you started.

Mac and cheese

How to freeze: Prep up the baking step, transfer to containers, let cool, cover, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Containers that are both oven safe and microwave safe (these 10oz kraft paper cups are my favorite). Glass would also work but you want to be careful with drastic temperature changes, like going from the freezer to the oven immediately (check the manufacturer’s notes) or defrost in the fridge overnight before baking. Foil or metal containers, either individually sized or casserole sized will work but that eliminates the option of reheating in the microwave.

How to reheat individual portions: Oven at 375ºf for 25 minutes covered with foil + 20 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. Microwave for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. 

How to reheat full casseroles: Oven at 375º for about an hour covered with foil + 15-30 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. 

Example recipes: Everything bagel mac and cheese, all of the mac and cheeses in Molly on the Range

Etc: Here are printable labels for individual portions, they are for Avery labels #6570.

Hotdishes, casseroles, lasagnas, matzo lasagna

How to freeze: Prep up the baking step, transfer to containers, let cool, cover, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Foil or metal, either individual 8oz or 10oz sized or larger casserole sized. Glass would also work but you want to be careful with drastic temperature changes, like going from the freezer to the oven immediately (check the manufacturer’s notes), or make sure to defrost in the fridge overnight before baking. Individual kraft paper cups would also work

How to reheat individual portions: Oven at 375ºf for 25 minutes covered with foil + 20 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. 

How to reheat full casseroles: Oven at 375º for about an hour covered with foil + 15-30 minutes uncovered, or until heated through. 

Example recipes: Chicken pot tater tot hotdish, paprikash hotdish, turkey wild rice hotdish, classic tater tot hotdish

Etc: Here are printable labels for individual portions, they are for Avery labels #6570.

Smoothies

How to freeze: Put all ingredients (minus any liquid) in a freezer safe container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most efficient because you can squeeze all of the air out of them and store them flat. I use quart sized because I make two at a time, one for me and one for Eggboy, but sandwich size will work for just one. Deli containers or other freezer-safe containers will work too.

How to prep: dump into blender, add liquid (water, juice, milk), if you have a few minutes let it sit so it can thaw just for a bit, gently break up any larger chunks that have stuck together with a butter knife, and blend on high until very smooth. You’ll likely have to use the tamper to help it along.

Example recipe: apple and peanut butter green smoothie

Potstickers

How to freeze: Prep dumplings up to the cooking step and place them on a parchment lined sheet pan that’s dusted with a little flour. Freeze them on the pan for an hour or so until solid and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag or other freezer safe container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: Steam or fry! This is the ultimate dumpling reheating guide!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

How to freeze: Prep dough, scoop into balls, and place them on a parchment lined sheet pan. Freeze them on the pan for an hour or so until solid and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag or other freezer safe container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: reheat pretty much exactly how you would bake them if they weren’t frozen, just add on a few minutes to the baking time.

Example recipes: Sarah’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soup (my old fashioned way)

How to freeze: Cook it fully, let it cool, transfer to a container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Any freezer safe + microwave safe container. I use these quart deli containers.

How to reheat: Microwave on defrost for a few minutes until soft and then microwave on high or pour into a pot and heat on the stove until heated through. Or defrost in the fridge overnight and microwave on high or reheat on the stove until heated through.

Example recipes: Knoephla, Kale and white bean soup, pita ribollita

Soup (if you’re working with an Instant Pot or slow cooker)

See Pinch of Yum’s post. These recipes are so clever and delicious looking!

Meatballs

How to freeze: Cook them fully, let cool, transfer to a container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: Stovetop- Simmer in red sauce until heated through. Oven- place on a sheet pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.

Burritos

How to freeze: Cook them fully (err on the side of keeping a bite in your veggies since they’ll continue to cook when reheated), wrap in parchment held together with tape or a rubber band or in plastic wrap, place them all in Ziploc bag, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

How to reheat: Wrapped in parchment (remove tape or rubber band if that was on there) or a paper towel, microwave for about 2-3 minutes (for a burrito made in a standard 10” tortilla), flipping once, until heated through. If you have the time/energy, it’ll be even better if you then grill it in a pan on both sides until browned and a little crisp. 

Pizza

How to freeze: Prep up to the baking step and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Freeze for an hour or so until solid and then wrap in plastic wrap, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

How to reheat: Remove plastic wrap, place on a baking sheet, and bake at a slightly reduced temperature (about 25º lower than the regular/non-freezer directions) until cheese is splotchy and the crust is golden. It will be a good few minutes longer than the regular/non-freezer directions, keep a close eye on it. 

Example recipe: Mini veggie pizzas

Muffins

How to freeze: Bake them fully, let cool, transfer to a container, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ideal container: Ziploc bags or plastic wrap are the most space efficient, but any freezer safe container will do.

How to reheat: Microwave until heated through or defrost at room temp.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwiches are hard!! I have one that I’ll be making on Girl Meets Farm in a few weeks that literally kept me up at night because figuring out a pre-cooked egg situation that would heat up at the same rate as the bread was a journey. Basically, if the egg is too thick, then the bread will be rock hard and overcooked by the time the egg is heated through. My solution: use a bagel, which is very sturdy and can withstand a longer amount of time in the microwave, and a layer of egg that is on the thinner side. Also go with bacon or Canadian bacon instead of a thick pieces of sausage. Reheat wrapped in parchment. My full microwaveable breakfast sandwich recipe is coming soon!!! 

Another option: the breakfast bourekas from Molly on the Range. They freeze and reheat in the microwave or toaster oven beautifully. 

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This is still in testing mode for me but as I was making some for dinner the other night I realized that cauliflower fried rice would be a really easy and healthy dinner to have in the freezer. I buy Green Giant’s cauliflower/sweet potato rice mix from the freezer section and all it needs is about 5 minutes in a skillet, so I figure that combining it with other finely chopped or small vegetables (alliums, kale, broccoli, peas, corn), pre-cooked proteins (scrambled eggs, cooked chopped bacon, chopped ham, cooked ground sausage, etc.), and flavorings (grated fresh ginger, soy sauce, kimchi brine, sesame oil, sriracha, black pepper, etc.) would make an easily reheat-able meal in a bag that you could just dump in a skillet, heat, and eat. That makes logical sense right? I’ll tell you how it goes!

Resources

Labels- It’s important to label everything with the date and the contents! Even if you’re 100% positive that you’ll remember, you want to be prepared for sleep deprivation brain and also make it easy for visiting friends/family members to heat stuff up if they’ve offered to help. A sharpie marker and masking tape does the trick, or you could make labels on the computer (Avery makes it really easy to make customizable labels).

Containers- The Webstaurant Store is my go-to for deli containers and kraft paper containers because they have tons of options and you can buy them in bulk. Most grocery stores also have a wide selection of foil containers. And of course trusted brands like Pyrex and Rubbermaid make great covered containers and covered casserole dishes.

Freezer guides- Pinch of Yum’s freezer guide! Also the Kitchn has a lot of freezer tutorials, and if you Google “how to freeze such and such,” you’ll usually find tons of results!

My Instagram meal prep story highlight- I’ll be posting more recipes and tips over the next few months here!

Phew! Ok I think that’s it! Since I’m about to go on maternity leave, I might not be able to answer many prep-related questions but I hope this guide helps!!!!

-Yeh!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen